Author Topic: The Big Stone in winter  (Read 4351 times)

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Offline Durin

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The Big Stone in winter
« on: December 06, 2009, 01:33:08 am »
I didn't get to do it over summer, so if the weather lines up I'm hoping to give the Big Stone a shot somewhere between Dec 17-Jan 9. Only been up a couple walls, never El Cap.

I'm wondering what route though. I'd like to do the Nose or Salathe, but my partner thinks lurking fear might be a better idea because it's shorter and one can bail more quickly.

However, LF would also be devoid of sun until what, 2pm?

Would triple direct be faster than the nose or salathe?

Looking to do clean or mostly clean, and have access to a ledge with a fly.

Thanks for any advice!

Offline scottydo

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #1 on: December 06, 2009, 08:09:45 am »
Hey Durin! Glad to see you're checkin' out bigwalls.com. There's a lot of folks here who should be able to point you in the right direction (sadly I am only a lurker for now). Good luck in a couple weeks!

Offline Mike.

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #2 on: December 06, 2009, 09:53:14 am »
Hey doods,

"Winter" is a pretty open issue on EC. It's condition dependent; anything from t-shirt weather to someplace you do not want to be. Even in good weather there may be falling ice and runoff.

The lower angle routes like LF are more exposed to icefall, etc. Hang out and watch the bombs fall off the big part on a warming bay after some cold storm action--it's pretty sobering. The right side is generally the place to be in Winter, but ice frisbees can/do fall into the overhanging wall. Meltwater also can be a factor. Be ready to climb in precip even if the weather is sunny (you can't wait out runoff like you can a squall). Ice up high can shut you down by clogging gear placements or making free climbing impossible.

Impending doom aside, it's a glorious treat being up on EC when there's nobody there. There are almost always windows of good weather to get it done--timing is everything. Your best bet as a relatively new guy on EC would probably be to bust through the lower (exposed) part of Zodiac while it's cold. The bottom of the circle to the summit is pretty sheltered and has very little mandatory free. LF could be a nice Winter run, but the slog over the top in conditions is not going to be fun, esp with bivi gear. The descent from Zod is much shorter, easier, and won't involve negotiating many open slabs which could be snowed/iced up like LF. You can stay close to the rim from Zodiac and be at the raps pretty quickly. Don't hesitate to throw a rope on at the last (or any) of the 3rd class sections before the raps.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2009, 09:55:33 am by Mike. »
Say no to limbers, excavators and retro-bolters. No matter how much he smiles.

Offline Martin fickweiler

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #3 on: December 06, 2009, 12:53:33 pm »
My first El Cap winter route was Zodiac, here you find a link to a short realplayer movie. Even though it's in Dutch the images speak for themselves. (http://www.climbing.nl/images/nieuws/winterzodiac.ram)

The last two days I fixed the first four pitches of Zenyatta Mondatta, solo. Now a storm is approaching I don't dare to commit to the wall. Use your brains and all will be fine. Success should be based on the experience and not on the result of your climbing. Good luck!

Martin Fickweiler.
« Last Edit: December 06, 2009, 01:09:01 pm by Martin fickweiler »

Offline lambone

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #4 on: December 06, 2009, 05:14:36 pm »
Do Zodiac

I wouldn't climb anything left of T-Trip in the winter...unless you were push it in a day during good weather.

Offline Durin

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #5 on: December 07, 2009, 12:42:01 am »
Thank you all for the replies!

Scottydo, yeah, these forums are definitely helpful, thanks for the tip =)

Mike, thanks for the advice. Sometimes the Valley has little snow by christmas -- do you think LF could be a reasonable option, or still too dangerous? I've done the east ledges  descent but only after climbing the East Buttress. I could definitely see roping up on the 3rd/4th before the raps if they are filled with snow. Is the hike from the west face to the east face that bad up top? I figured it was all forested 2nd class at most.

Martin! It's Colin, we met in Camp 4 in late July/August. The video definitely speaks for itself, and is inspiring. Best of luck with ZM.

lambone, do you think you could expand? If you wouldn't do a route left of the Trip because it'd be miserable, then I might be up for it anyway. If it's because of missiles, then that's different.

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #6 on: December 07, 2009, 12:46:33 am »
hot damn Martin, well said...


Quote
Success should be based on the experience and not on the result of your climbing


not to detract from the op, just saying, generally.

Offline Mike.

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #7 on: December 07, 2009, 07:10:17 am »
Exciting stuff...one mean storm bearing down on CA right now. That'll put a different face on the descent.

Durin, I don't know about dangerous. AFAIR, most of the climbing is bomber enough that one could do it under almost any conditions, and probably quickly. I try to gage the fun factor, and to me, slogging over 3th class slabs in conditions with a load is avoidable non-fun. Yes, the north variation of the descent cuts through the scrub and avoids a bunch of the descent slabs. What experience does one want? seems like the question. I'm thinking if it were me I'd rather be swinging around on the steeps and minimizing the descent than whisking snow off holds, being in the shade most of the day and post holing over the top.

Most or all the regular posters here have done LF. What do you guys think about that route in three weeks? I know...it depends!

Have a blast whatever ya do. Bring good storm/winter gear and brew up plenty. OOOOHHHHH
« Last Edit: December 07, 2009, 07:12:15 am by Mike. »
Say no to limbers, excavators and retro-bolters. No matter how much he smiles.

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #8 on: December 07, 2009, 01:06:38 pm »
didn't erik say he felt like he was going to die up in the upper corners when a strom rolled in on his TR of LF? 



seeing a little rain was ok in the summer on that ledge at the base of the corners, but I wouldn't want to do that last pitch to tgiving in a storm. yikes! 

Offline Caz

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #9 on: December 07, 2009, 03:27:33 pm »
Druin,

Good to see you came over to get advice from the guys with years of wall climbing under their belts. Just reading through the site, has helped me big time, and getting advice from people like Mike, Skully, Garbanzo and johnmac has proved to be a big help to me.

So I have never attempted to climb El Cap in the winter, but I have hiked around the base and have seen some big rock fall. I would listen to lambone and not climb anything left of T Trip. I'm thinking about going for Virgina sometime between Xmass and January 15th myself.

Good ;uck and have a great time up there!


Zac
I do this for fun...

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #10 on: December 07, 2009, 03:30:41 pm »
I would NOT do Lurking Fear in the Winter, unless it's an incredible drought.
Pretty shady then, too.

Offline lambone

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #11 on: December 07, 2009, 04:23:26 pm »

lambone, do you think you could expand? If you wouldn't do a route left of the Trip because it'd be miserable, then I might be up for it anyway. If it's because of missiles, then that's different.

Hey, Mike. covered this. You oughta really pay attention to any advice he posts here.

Missels are a big concern. If ya do'nt think so, go stand under the Captain after a storm and you''ll change your tune, the base can get bombarded with ice. The final pitches of those routes you mention will be wet if there is any snow on the summit. Being soaked with ice water and topping out on wet slabs is also a concern. My friend did LF in March and they got soaked for the last 6-7 pitches of the route, said he was almost hypothermic.

I recomend Zodiac because it is prolly the safest and most atainable route for a 1st time El Cap climber to do in the winter. It is steep, easy hauling, most belays up past p4 are sheltered and it has a great topout, plus it is a beautiful classic route, and the winter is a great time to get on it because you don't have tons of noobs swarming it. Plus a fairly easy bail from p9 and below.

I would recomend it over Tangerine Trip for both quality, and the top out of T-Trip is a 'don't fall' runout friction slab. If it snows while your on route, that topout will be spicy.

Anything between T-Trip and Nose you aren't ready to get up in a hurry. And I wouldn't chance it slow style in the winter.

The Nose could be a possibility if you get a really nice weather window and can do it in 2 nights, but the upper pitches could be wet.

I wouldn't recomend Tripple Direct, do the Salathe, Muir or Nose, not the combo. And Like I said, LF will be a wet slog to top out.

Good luck!






Offline Mike.

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #12 on: December 08, 2009, 09:00:52 am »
Durin, a thought...

My bro and I were on the right side in Jan-Feb, going camping style. (The only EC ascent I've done in true winter.) We climbed until a squall came in about 2/3rds up, then we decided to wait it out for a day. Actually we could have kept climbing since it wasn't a windy storm and the flakes were falling 20' from the wall, but we had supplies and were into a day off. If we had been on LF, it would have been completely different, even though that route is easily bailable and the climbing is generally easy. When we got to the Trip finish it was totally dry because it faces south. We fixed lines down the rim to a bivi spot as the sun set, and within literally minutes our ropes froze.

Maybe check out some shots of the Cap in winter and see where the snow and ice accumulate. I think route selection is every bit as key as the weather, maybe more so.

Cheers...
Say no to limbers, excavators and retro-bolters. No matter how much he smiles.

Offline del cross

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #13 on: December 08, 2009, 08:57:46 pm »
I did the Nose in March one year. Not "true" winter since we blasted on the equinox, but we had some snow and icefall. We were slow, five nights up there, nearly ran out of alcohol. There was a storm predicted and I thought it was a dangerous time to go but my partner made light of my fears. Plus it was our only chance as we were both making life changes that would preclude that type of climbing for a couple of years.

He turned out to be right. The storm glanced off the Valley and we never got more than a couple inches of snow, a day of piss and drizzle, and the ice never got big enough to puncture the fly. It really wasn't that cold or even that wet. So I came away feeling like I was just a big paranoid chickenshit for being so worried.

Then we got news from a couple of his friends -- a week or so after we topped out they'd bailed off the lower part of the route. They'd nearly been creamed by a giant block of ice that exploded onto a nearby ledge. Hmmmm, well, so maybe I had at least half a good reason to be sort of a little bit concerned.

I do have to add though, that despite my sense of doom and gloom while we were up there it was pretty cool being the only party on the Captain.

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #14 on: December 09, 2009, 01:22:21 pm »
del, good to get away with something like that. full value as they say.



I'm a big chicken of falling ice.  Anything bigger than finger nail nearby and I start hiding behind trees at the base when free climbing on the SW side.





Offline Didder

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #15 on: December 13, 2009, 01:05:34 am »
I'm sure it's lookin' pretty grim up there right now....

Offline Durin

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #16 on: January 12, 2010, 11:00:49 pm »
I pulled off Zodiac! =)

Fixed to pitch 5 over two days. Came back a couple days later, blasted off wednesday morning. Bivvied at 7,10,12, and 15, which was pretty damn frustrating. But we topped out with 3 liters left, as well as an extra day's worth of food. We really were fortunate to have such a big window of nice weather. Though, we did sit through a couple of minor storms.

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #17 on: January 13, 2010, 05:58:33 am »
Yeah, Durin!
You know, we'll be looking for a TR, maybe some pics?
;-)

Offline Mike.

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #18 on: January 13, 2010, 06:58:58 am »
Hey, Durin...tell us a story.

Congratulations, man!
Say no to limbers, excavators and retro-bolters. No matter how much he smiles.

Offline mungeclimber

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #19 on: January 13, 2010, 11:40:02 am »
pics and stories welcome!

Offline offset

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #20 on: January 13, 2010, 11:51:04 am »

Offline xtrmecat

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #21 on: January 13, 2010, 08:20:27 pm »
  Not the "Big Stone", but it got me fixed until spring. Here ya go.

http://www.supertopo.com/Trip-Report/10511/Gentlemans_Agreement_Winter_Wallin

  Enjoy,

     Bob

skully

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #22 on: January 13, 2010, 08:31:13 pm »
Nice one, xtremecat.
Gotta love that Zion sandstone, eh?
Man, I'd like to get back down there, sooner than later.

Offline Durin

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Offline mungeclimber

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #24 on: February 07, 2010, 03:54:25 pm »
I posted this on mp...

Quote
way to do it up!

hey nothing wrong with fixin. it's your game and no one elses.

you state it how it goes, with no lying (cept on the portaledge), and topped out with out dying.

way successful! and that weather could have turned sour. cali-winter just starting up is big balls.

skully

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #25 on: February 07, 2010, 07:55:04 pm »
Right on, Durin....Way to get it done.
Thanks for sharing it with us.

Offline xtrmecat

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #26 on: February 08, 2010, 09:12:13 am »
  Nice job Durin. Wish I was there.

    Bob

Offline hoipolloi

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #27 on: February 08, 2010, 10:34:31 am »
Durin-


Did you guys lose a Pulley at the base?

Offline YetAnotherDave

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #28 on: February 08, 2010, 02:48:17 pm »
The haulbag was attached to the haul line with a locking carabiner. Somehow the lock had unscrewed, and the bag was hanging on the rope by the nose of the carabiner, with the gate open. Our entire haulbag - water, food, sleeping bags, portaledge...etc. could have easily taken a screaming ride into the abyss and splattering all over the valley floor.

Thanks for the reminder to buy a few more ball-lock biners for this wall season!

and, of course, for the great TR


Offline del cross

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Re: The Big Stone in winter
« Reply #29 on: February 08, 2010, 05:17:23 pm »
Durin, you must be that guy my friend Tad emailed me about needing a partner. I was overseas and couldn't consider joining you. Glad it worked out for you, way to go!